Stuart White

Never give up!

 

In 1996 the day after my 13th birthday, I got hit by a car when I was on my push bike. I was straight into a coma for 9 days and in hospital for nearly two months. I had a fractured skull (just above my nose) all the way going up and down my head to the top of my neck and two black eyes the size of golf balls. As a result of the accident I lost so much memory I was basically back to the age of a 4-5 year old. Some of my family - I couldn't remember their names.

 

I remember being at the hospital and having my own room. It was right next to the main desk for the children’s ward. As you go into the room on the left was the television and video. Far left was the bed (going towards to the television) and next to it was a cupboard where I had my drinks and sweets. Funny what you can recall.

 

I had a huge problem on one of my legs because I couldn't 'lift it' when I was walking and I couldn't walk far so I used a wheelchair.

 

I had to relearn writing, reading, maths....everything. I had a big slur when I was talking. When I did talk a lot of the time the words came out wrong (like to say “please can you pass me the salt” I would say something like “I want some milk”.

 

I found everyone in the hospital always looked at me and judged me without even knowing what I had been through. Outside the hospital too.

 

I have epilepsy now due to the accident but I consider myself lucky because I could have ended up a lot worse, in many different ways, as you can imagine.

 

I have a sister who is 5 years younger than me and I would punch her in the face and then say to her within the space of a minute 'why are you crying?' and she would explain to me that I punched her and I would cry and ask 'why would I do that? I didn't do that'.

 

I have progressed so far. I also consider that the accident happened for a reason and has made me a better person than the person I was before.

 

After so many years I am finally able to talk to pretty much anyone about what happened to me without crying. I did consider suicide once. When I was 13, I felt so bad because it was Christmas time and I had no money to get my family presents (of course I didn't know at the time that I didn't need to -  basically I never understood anything).

 

I have never really had many friends because I have always been judged as an 'outsider' and 'unwanted' but I still carried on fighting. Now I have a few friends and people accept me for me. I try and tell others that whatever happens things do improve.

 

In August 2013 I joined a group (volunteering) where I live that does things for people with head injuries. The group is a charity called Headway East Northants. I talk to the people there, share stories , painting, teach them basic computer skills, play games, go places like bowling, karaoke etc and I have found my 'fire from inside me' again.

 

In September the same year I got called into the office by the Services Manager. I must admit I was surprised and didn’t really know what she wanted. We sat down and started talking..... and then I was offered a job....I was (and still am) shocked, not just because I haven’t been into volunteering very long, but also because of how much positivity I received from her. I must have had the same from the clients and other staff and volunteers. Basically what I am trying to say is that it does improve and I want everyone else to stay strong.

 

I couldn’t have done it without my family and friends. I explained it all to my Mum when I got home and she burst into tears. She was so happy for me and said she is so proud of me.

 

I watched the film 'The Crash Reel'. It is the first film that has made me cry. It’s about an accident that involved a traumatic brain injury. The film reminded me of myself in so many ways. Watching the coma part, in a wheelchair, struggling to walk long distances (when I mean long, I mean longer than 5 minutes).

 

I wouldn’t have been able reach this point without my family and I can’t thank them enough for it. I have always wanted to give something back to them but I know I can’t but I also know that I haven’t got to ...it’s just something that is always in my mind. My parents visited me every single day whilst I was in hospital. The pain they had. It’s something I can’t get out of my mind. I remember once that I thought they didn’t want to see me because I called them and there was no answer. They turned up like 1 minute later and I cried.

 

It hasn’t been long since I’ve been willing to open up fully about all of this. It does make me sad because 17 years of not opening up about it all and then all of it coming out at once it’s a lot but I know it’s the right time to open up and help as many people as possible.

 

Thank you for reading this and I hope it helps. Never give up, even though it’s so hard, because I assure you that your son, daughter, family, friend or loved ones will be so grateful you didn’t.

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